Stanley Fischer is the Right Choice to be the Fed's Vice Chair

Dec 12, 2013Bo Cutter

Fischer has the temperament and the experience to help guide the Federal Reserve through the difficult policy debates ahead.

A brief comment on the possible nomination of Stanley Fischer to be the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board. Full disclosure: I know Professor Fischer well and think extremely highly of him. He has been a leading light of the Aspen Institute's annual seminar on the world economy, which I co-chair.

In a singe declarative sentence: this would be a wonderful nomination. I don't know why he wants to do this, but we should be so lucky.

Stan Fischer has vast central banking and international economic policy experience. Remarkably, he just stepped down as Chairman of the Central Bank of Israel (a 10-year stint), he has been the principal deputy at the IMF, and he has long been one of the world's leading macroeconomists. There is no one in this sector Stan Fischer doesn't know and hasn't worked with.

He understands the requirements and realities of policymaking at this level. I suspect there isn't a policy environment in the world more "rough and tumble" than Israel. This is a background that will become useful in a hurry. The Republicans in the House have announced their intention to do a thorough examination of the Fed. There's no reason any major institution should be immune from being evaluated, but this is to be read as an intention to beat up the Fed as much as possible and collect as much media attention for the home districts as possible. Janet Yellen will find Stan an invaluable resource as all of this happens.

I've watched Stan for well over 10 years in discussions and debates. He is calm, he listens unusually well, and he rarely regards the person on the other side as the enemy. He actually learns in the course of a debate. The Fed faces tough calls over the next years and it will require that its leadership listen to a wide range of very smart people who passionately hold very different views.

The only area I can imagine where Stan will be attacked will be his roughly four-year period 10 years ago as a vice-chair of CitiBank. I sure hope that attack doesn't emerge. I think it's a very good thing that one of the world's leading central bankers actually has a working experience-based understanding of large commercial banks.

Finally, back to Janet Yellen. It says a lot about her - all good - that she would seek a number two as strong as Stan Fischer. You can tell a lot about how capable the person at the top is by seeing if he or she is threatened or energized by having first-rate colleagues. Clearly Janet Yellen is very comfortable with who she is and the kind of leader she wants to be.

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter is formerly a managing partner of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm. Recently, he served as the leader of President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) transition team. He has also served in senior roles in the White Houses of two Democratic Presidents.

 

 

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